In his “Epistle to Yemen,” Maimonides tells us how the nations have tried to destroy Israel. He explains: “[Because of Israel’s unique and divinely inspired way of life], all the nations, instigated by envy and impiety, rose up against us …” In each era they employed a new method to destroy Israel and its Torah. Maimonides first mentions conquest or brute force, e.g., Amalek, Nebuchadnezzar, and Hadrian. A second and more refined method was argumentation. Thus, the Greeks sought to demolish the Torah by means of philosophical controversy.
After this, says Maimonides, “there arose a sect which combined the two methods, conquest and controversy, into one, because it believed that this procedure would be more effective in wiping out every trace of the Jewish nation and [its faith]. It therefore resolved to lay claim to prophecy and to found a new faith, contrary to our Law, and to contend that it was equally God-given [but that it superseded the Torah].” None of these methods, Maimonides points out, has succeeded in destroying Judaism or in thwarting the will of God. The Jews survived and remained loyal to their Torah.
Turning to modern times, a fourth method has been used to undermine the Torah: “biblical criticism,” which denies the Torah’s divine origin and therefore Israel as the Chosen People. Yet, lo and behold, today we are witnessing not only an unprecedented growth of yeshivas. Jews from all walks of life returning to the Torah, a convergence of Torah and science, and a burgeoning Torah-oriented population. Yes, and all this threatens Israel’s secular establishment.
Ever since the Six-Day War of June 1967, when Israel miraculously regained control of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights, the nations have sought to roll Israel back to its precarious 1949 armistice lines. That Israeli governments agreed and still agree to Israel’s territorial contraction is unprecedented in the history of nations, especially in view of the murderous anti-Semitism and enormous military expenditures of Israel’s Arab neighbors. But this suggests that the most subtle and dangerous enemy of the Torah is none other than the State of Israel, as witness its expulsion of 8,000 Jews from Gaza—a crime that has no name.
By the “State” I mean its political and judicial institutions, which have entrenched Israel’s secular elites in power. The very design of these institutions, which I have laboriously elucidated in books and articles, have enabled these elites to pursue the Torah-destructive policy of “territory for peace,” which has metamorphosed into “unilateral disengagement.”
This insidious policy now requires Jews to forsake their heartland, Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The loss of Judea and Samaria strikes at the heart of Judaism, of biblical prophecy, of Jewish education, of Jewish reverence for God Almighty.
This State policy of territorial retreat in the name of peace, eviscerates the Torah, its truth and its promise. It demoralizes and emasculates Jews. It undermines Jewish self-confidence and national identity. It degrades God’s Chosen people, but therefore the God of Israel. This is the ultimate meaning and consequence of the “peace process.”
But what must also be emphasized is that Jews are not only the victims but also the villains of this diabolical peace process.
Last week I wrote about Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary to the Torah portion on Pinchas (Numbers 25:12). This illustrious Torah philosopher teaches us that God’s covenant of peace or “Brit Shalom” with Pinchas represents God’s promise that peace will ultimately reign over the whole world. But I ask: “What is true peace as opposed to the soul-destroying peace of those who represent the State of Israel—the State that waged war against the Jews of Gush Katif?”
Hirsch writes: “True peace of men with each other rests on the peace of all of them with God”—the God of Israel. Therefore, he who dares to wage war against the enemies of the God of Israel is actually fighting for the Brit Shalom on earth. Conversely, “he who, for the sake of so-called peace, quietly leaves the field to people who are at variance with God, his love of peace is at one with the enemies of the Brit Shalom on earth” (emphasis added).
Hirsch’s commentary has shocking implications. What is shocking is not that the State’s policy of land-for-peace has nothing to do with true peace. That should be obvious to any forthright student of Arab-Islamic culture. And here, let us not be so naïve as to regard those who pursue peace with Arab despots as mere fools and cowards. No, those who pursue this policy are enemies of the Torah, traitors to Judaism and the God of Israel.
But what is most shocking about the treachery underlying this insidious policy is that it applies not only to the State’s secular parties but to its religious parties as well! Reading Hirsch, it’s obvious that those who oppose the Torah—the secular parties—do not seek true peace because true peace requires making peace with God. But we also read in Hirsch that “he who, for the sake of so-called peace, quietly leaves the field to those who [like the secularist parties] are at variance with God, his love of peace is at one with the enemies of the Brit Shalom on earth”! This means that the religious parties, which have acquiesced in the policy of land for peace, are no less blameworthy than the secular parties for the State’s betrayal of the Brit Shalom promised by God!
Did not the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party make Oslo or the Israel-PLO Agreement possible by joining the Labor-Meretz government after the June 1992 elections? Did not the supposedly Zionist National Religious Party sign the Sharon government’s coalition agreement of March 2003 that bound the signatories to Oslo? Did not the ultra-Orthodox Torah United Judaism party enable Sharon to implement the disengagement from Gaza by joined his government in 2004—a government committed to a Palestinian state?
Have the religious parties stood up and vehemently opposed—on Torah grounds—the government’s release of hundreds of Arab terrorists, including murderers, for the bodies of Jewish soldiers—a sanctimonious act of insanity which ensures the murder of more Jews? Could they not have cited the self-sacrifice of the great teacher Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg who was taken captive and died in prison, having refused to be ransomed for an exorbitant sum lest this endanger other Jews?
Again and again Israel has been degraded. Again and again the Torah has been degraded. Again and again the Name of God has been degraded. Not only by the Arabs but also by the State, yes the State, the oxymoronic State of Israel—and with no expressions of outrage by the religious parties! Where is courage? Where is love of God and Torah?
Know well that Muslims give their lives not merely to kill Jews but to degrade Israel and the Torah. Know well that Muslim suicide bombers give their lives not merely to reduce Jewish men, women, and children to body parts, but to defame Israel and the Torah. Know well that Muslims murder Jews not for territory but for a fraudulent religion, and do so because the Torah makes nonsense of the Koran, hence of Mohammad and his deity. This is why Muslims must degrade the Jews, their Torah, and the God of Israel
The philosopher Emil Fackenheim saw this in the Nazi program. “The whole purpose of the [Nazi] program.” he said, “was to reduce Israel to excrement. That program included the God of Israel.”
Today the peace process is reducing Israel to excrement. The Temple Mount desecrated; Joseph’s Tomb destroyed; yeshiva students murdered; Jewish children dismembered; Jewish towns depopulated. And now Israel and the Jewish people are degraded by the Olmert government, a government that makes any man of taste want to vomit.
The State of Israel was established to protect Jews and restore Jewish honor. Can it be that this State must perish for Israel to survive?